UPDATED: Gay Man Brutally Assaulted in Montrose in Possible Hate Crime
Houston police say they have arrested one of the two suspects.
UPDATE, Aug. 9: Houston Police Department spokeswoman Jodi Silva said the investigation is ongoing, but there have been no additional arrests.
“It’s assigned to an investigator,” Silva said. “I don’t have any updates right now. We’re still going through the case and interviewing people.”
UPDATE, Aug. 3: Houston Police Department spokeswoman Jodi Silva said Friday afternoon that the case remains under investigation, and there have been no additional arrests.
Silva said investigators still do not believe the incident was a hate crime.
“I just want to dispel any rumors that are in the community about this, because I don’t want people to unnecessarily be afraid,” Silva said. “There has to be some reason for us to believe he was targeted solely on the basis of his race, color, religion, or sexual orientation. Merely being in the area [Montrose] or having left a bar does not necessarily make him a victim of a hate crime. If they had run up to him and yelled some sort of slur at him, then there’s definitely an element of a hate crime. As far as we know, and [according to] witnesses and our victims and our suspect, none of those elements are present.”
Silva did advise people to avoid walking alone and stay in well-lit areas. She also encouraged anyone anxious to see additional arrests to be patient.
“This isn’t CSI or 48 Hours; it works its way though the system,” she said. “Things just don’t happen overnight.”
The victim, Christopher Bradford, said later Friday that he has been in contact with the HPD investigator assigned to the case. Bradford said the investigator does not believe suspect Caleb Tout’s story about someone having exposed himself to his girlfriend.
“Essentially, they’re full of crap, and they’re lying about their motive and why they did it,” Bradford said of the suspects. “The police say they don’t have enough to say it’s a hate crime, but I don’t know. I know that they knew where I was coming from, and I know that they attacked me for no reason, and then made up a story. I think I was targeted for how I looked. I was alone, I was easy prey, and they knew where I was coming from, and they were in a district that they typically are not in.”
Bradford said he hopes to see both Tout’s father and girlfriend charged. He said Tout’s father participated in the attack, and his girlfriend tried to prevent witnesses from calling 911.
Bradford also said he has learned that Tout was only arrested after a bartender at Avant Garden, on Westheimer, noticed blood on his hands, and notified a police officer. Tout and his girlfriend were extremely intoxicated and went to Avante Garden after the attack.
“There are witnesses who said the dad is the one who was hitting me with the belt buckle,” Bradford said. “They’re trying to get all the blame on Caleb Tout, because he’s young and he doesn’t have any record, so that he can get off with probation.
“They were enjoying themselves,” Bradford added. “They were laughing and they were smiling while they did it. They knew good and well that I had done nothing wrong. I definitely want to get the word out about what can happen if you walk alone in Montrose. I really hope it prevents other people from having to deal with this.”
A gay man was brutally assaulted in Montrose early Wednesday, Aug. 1 in what he believes was a hate crime.
Christopher Bradford, 28, said the attack occurred at about 1:50 a.m. near Taft and Westheimer, the site of Houston’s Pride crosswalks, while he was walking home from Barcode, a gay club on Fairview.
Bradford said one of the suspects ran up and punched him in the face. When Bradford tried to fight back, another man pushed him to the ground. The suspects began punching and kicking him, and beating him with their belt buckles, and bludgeoning him with a rock.
Bradford had been on the phone with a friend, who overheard the attack and quickly drove to the scene. After the suspects ran off, Bradford’s friend took him to a nearby urgent care facility. He was transferred to Memorial Hermann hospital after a CT scan revealed blood around his brain.
“I was assaulted for being a gay man alone,” Bradford wrote in a Facebook post Wednesday afternoon. “My head was busted open in two places and my whole back bruised all the way down. If my friend had not run up and yelled he is calling the police, I might not be alive today.”
Bradford was released from the hospital late Wednesday morning after a follow-up CT scan revealed that the bleeding around his brain had stopped. Doctors used four staples and surgical glue to close wounds above his ear and on his forehead.
“I was covered with blood,” Bradford told OutSmart. “It was gushing out of my head. My whole shirt was soaked with blood.”
Jodi Silva, a spokeswoman for the Houston Police Department, said Wednesday afternoon that police arrested one of the two suspects after witnesses pointed officers in the direction they fled. Caleb John Tout, 19, is charged with assault with bodily injury. The other suspect is believed to be Tout’s father.
“The father is still at large, but it’s still an ongoing investigation,” Silva said.
Silva said police do not believe the attack was a hate crime. Tout’s girlfriend told police that she had been resting in a vehicle in the 2700 block of Whitney, when a man approached and exposed himself to her. She told police she went into a bar where Tout and his father were drinking and told them about the incident, at which point they began looking for the man.
“It just appears that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Silva said of Bradford, adding that Tout and his girlfriend were “highly intoxicated.” Tout’s girlfriend did not accompany the suspects as they went looking for the man who allegedly exposed himself, and police have no reason to believe it was Bradford.
“We had some drunk people, and they probably misdirected—I don’t even think they knew where [Bradford] was coming from,” Silva said. “They just saw our victim on the street and attacked him.”
Bradford, a single father of a 7-year-old girl, was recovering Wednesday afternoon at his mother’s home in Magnolia. He works at a local nonprofit, where he leads the LGBTQ resource group.
Bradford said he believes the attack was a hate crime because he had just left a gay bar and the suspects appeared to have no other reason to be in the neighborhood.
“I definitely want to make sure people are cautious about walking home by themselves, especially in that area,” said Bradford, who has lived in Montrose for the last two years. “We [LGBTQ people] think that we’re safe, but we’re not. Why else would you come in that area and attack someone?”